Perhaps not as frightening as cockroaches, not as “cute” as geckos, ants can be as aggravating as the the largest of pests. While ant traps and sprays can be highly effective, as most kill the entire nest, they do so with harsh chemicals that maybe harmful to humans.
We got some suggestions to help get rid of ants and deter them from returning without using pesticides.
Soap and water
A simple solution of soap and water will almost instantly kill ants in their tracks. Using one part soap to two parts water and spray on the ants wiping the surface will also destroy their chemical trail making more difficult for his friends to follow. (Try on roaches too.)
While this solution does not destroy the nest or origin of the ants, you can try leaving a dish of soapy water around possible entry ways and lure ants to the dish with a trail of food and kill multiple ants at one time. Eventually, these unwelcome visitors will get the hint.
Vinegar and water
Vinegar is a favourite natural product because it is so versatile. Long touted as a great alternative to chemical house cleaners, vinegar is now also gaining popularity as an effective natural insect killer. Use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water and like the soapy mispxture, spray directly on ants.
You can also use this solution as a deterrent spraying on windowsills, entry ways or around wherever you think the ants are coming in.
Lemon and water
For a more refreshing smelling spray, try 3 parts water to one part lemon juice. The acid from the lemon will kill the ants.
Presumably, you could make a triplely effective spray by combining soap, vinegar and lemon with water but I don’t know maybe that’s the equivalent of mixing alcohols? On their own – fabulous – but the minute you start mixing your beer with wine with vodka with gin…. Proceed with caution.
Food grade diatomaceous earth can also be used if you can find it. Most pet stores should sell it. Sprinkle the powdery substance around doors and windows and where you think there maybe a next, when they walk across, the substances causes them to “dry out” and die. While perfectly safe and very effective when used as an insecticide, it can be ineffective when wet – especially in humid conditions. If you tend to keep the air con off, this may be a less effective option.
If you see any hills outside but close to your home, you can try pouring boiling water (may need to repeat for a few days, but this will get them at the source.
If you want to try something a bit more humane in the name of “live and let live – just not in my house,” you can try sprinkling any one or combination of these substances ants supposedly dislike:
- Cayenne pepper
- Orange or lemon peels
- Coffee grounds
If essentials oils are more to your liking, try combining one of these with water (10 drops oil per 1 cup water) for a fragrant ant-deterring spray:
- Lemon oil
- Peppermint oil
- Cedar oil
- Eucalyptus oil (warning: toxic to cats, but not dogs)
- Lavender oil
It should go without saying but you’ll want to be diligent about keeping home surfaces clean so as not to attract any more ants. Using the soapy water spray or vinegar water spray can work double duty here) and be patient. While pesticides work more quickly, these non toxic methods can be just as effective if used often and consistently.
Want to get rid of cockroaches? We’ve got more natural solutions!
By Kathleen Siddell, July 2015